Authorities find theft ring and arrest business leaders

By Arielle Clay

MT. OLIVE, AL (WBRC) - Jefferson County Sheriff's Deputies uncover a major theft ring in Mount Olive.

Three people were arrested Wednesday morning in a raid. The suspects specialized in stealing pickup trucks and utility trailers.

Deputies say they are also linked to the attempted murder of a Morris police officer.

Cars found were stolen from as close as Hoover and as far away as Mississippi. They were worth a total of at least $350,000.

The ring was run from an auto repair shop that's been in business for 30 years.

"I have a used car lot. And they rebuilt starters and alternators for me," Chris Nation said.

Nation worked with Wicks Automotive on Mt. Olive Brookside Road. He says a few years back he felt something wasn't right.

"Nobody said what was going on, but I just sensed something and stopped doing business with them," Nation said.

Jefferson County Sheriff Mike Hale says Nation sensed the theft ring his department uncovered.

"It's just an old-fashioned theft ring. They were chopping up some of the trucks and selling some of the trucks in addition to adding on a travel trailer," Hale said.

He says the ring was discovered while investigating an attempted murder where attacked a Morris police officer with a stolen truck.

"This information that we thought may have been solely for the use of resolving that horrible crime where the Morris officer was run over, it morphed into something else like it does so many times," Hale said.

According to the Sheriff's Office, two of the men arrested, Randall Wicks and Charles Ray Ricketts, were the main organizers of the ring.  But Hale says he doesn't believe that's where it ends.

"This investigation is continuing, and charges may be added on because quite frankly we believe these two individuals will lead us to other," Hale said.

At the minimum, Ricketts and Wicks will be charged with receiving stolen property first degree.

Police and deputies seized more cars tied to a ring in west Jefferson County.

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